Whats going on at the Sand Pit
Up dated 31st July 2011
It's always good news to hear of woodland regeneration and habitat care in general so here are some
photos of Widdington pits new woodland
Up dated 9th February 2010
Cllr Rhodes informed the meeting that Carr and Bircher won their appeal over Essex CC to continue extracting and recycling at the site until 31.12.2013 and then until 31.12.2014 to reinstate site.
Application Number: ESS/49/07/UTT
Case Officer: Shelley Birch
Site: Widdington Sand Pit, Hollow Road, Widdington, CB11 3SL
Description: Continuation of skip hire, waste recycling and transfer operations and composting of green waste together with aggregate sales and associated office, workshop, welding shop, security caravan, mess huts, trommel cover, vehicle washing area and car park (part retrospective).
Secretary of State Referral? No Date: 02 April 2008
Widdington pit lies approximately 8km to the north west of Stansted Airport and lies 600m south west of Widdington village and south of Hollow Road. The site lies within a Special Landscape Area as designated by the County Council, however there are no policies in the Uttlesford District Local Plan to support this.
The application site is accessed via Hollow Road which to the east of the haul route is a Protected Lane and subject to a 7.5 tonne weight restriction (except for agricultural vehicles). Hollow Road to the west of the haul route is largely a single lane road, which passes under a railway bridge with a 10 foot height restriction. Passing bays have been provided as part of previous planning permissions for this site.
Widdington sand pit abuts the application site to the east. It currently benefits from planning permission reference ESS/33/02/UTT/REV which permits the extraction of sand and landfill of inert waste until 30 June 2009, with restoration by 30 June 2010.
A Public Right of Way (PRoW), Bridleway 14 Widdington, runs through the application area in a north south direction. The site operator has applied for a diversion order from Uttlesford District Council to divert the Bridleway from its definitive route to the route it currently takes on the ground. The order has not yet been certified.
The 0.85 hectare application site comprises the access haul road to the site and an area of Widdington pit that has been previously worked and filled and lies to the west of the remaining void. The site is surrounded by bunding approximately 4 metres in height.
The nearest residential property is to the south approximately 450 metres from the application site. There are also properties on Hollow Road to the north east and on Wood End to the east.
In 1990 planning permission (UTT/911/89) for mineral (soft sand) extraction and restoration by landfilling waste was granted as an eastern extension of the original 1950s working area, this permission was extended in 1999 (ESS/53/97/UTT) extending the life of the site to 30 June 2002.
In January 2006 the continuation of the excavation of sand and disposal of refuse (inert waste only) until 30 June 2009 and completion of restoration by 30 June 2010 was resolved to be approved subject to a legal agreement concerning highway matters (ESS/33/02/UTT/REV). Permission was finally granted on 04 August 2006.
Carr and Bircher acquired the site in 2001. Since then, a number of planning permissions have been granted within the current application area:
• On 24 November 2002 planning permission ESS/63/01/UTT was granted for a recycling centre, skip hire and aggregates sales use for a 2 year period.
• In January 2003 planning permission ESS/02/02/UTT was granted for composting of green waste to provide soil improver for site restoration for a 3 year period.
• In August 2003 planning permission ESS/26/03/UTT was granted for a cover over a waste recycling plant and the installation of two mess huts/toilet facilities to expire on 24 November 2004.
• In August 2003 planning permission ESS/34/03/UTT was granted for a car park for the adjacent landfill and recycling operations to expire on 24 November 2004.
• In August 2004 planning permission ESS/12/04/UTT was granted for the erection of a litter fence on top of bund with associated landscaping to expire on 24 November 2004.
• On 28 July 2006 planning permission ESS/43/05/UTT was granted to incorporate all of the above activities. It incorporated a Section 106 Agreement requiring two financial contributions from the developer, appropriate signage and maintenance of Hollow Road and North Hall Road and to ensure users of the site avoid the route through Widdington village.
Planning permission ESS/43/05/UTT above expired on 30 July 2007 thus the site has been operating without planning permission since that date.
This application was submitted in October 2007 and seeks to regularise the operations on site.
This application is for the regularisation of the existing operations on site. These operations encompass the following:
• Importation of waste using skip lorries.
• Skip storage and sorting of skip waste. Soil, hardcore, wood, metal, plastics, green waste and road planings are recovered for reuse and most of it is recycled. The waste is screened and sorted into various categories.
• Soil and hardcore is separated and sold directly to customers. Waste metals are hand picked and exported for recycling. Wood waste is separated on site and extracted for chipping and processing using the shredder on site.
• Green waste is proposed to be composted on a designated hard surfaced area in the north east corner of the site which is separated from the adjacent bund by a concrete retaining wall. These operations have been partially implemented under planning permission reference ESS/43/05/UTT.
• Any waste that cannot be recycled would be disposed of in the adjacent landfill; however this has been delayed due to problems obtaining consent from the Environment Agency. Therefore, residual waste has recently been stockpiled on the top of the adjacent landfill in breach of planning permission reference ESS/33/02/UTT/REV.
• The application is for the handling of 107,000 tonnes of waste per annum. This is in line with the previous permitted operations.
• The proposal includes the importation and sale of around 15,000 tonnes of aggregate over and above the 10,000 tonnes of building sand which is extracted from the adjacent sand pit.
• The existing offices, workshop, mess huts, security caravan, trommel cover and car park are proposed to remain.
The applicant has applied for temporary permission for the above operations until 30 June 2009, which matches the current end date for the adjoining landfill site.
4. POLICY CONSIDERATIONS
The following policies of the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), Minerals Local Plan (MLP) adopted November 1996, Waste Local Plan (WLP) adopted September 2001 and Uttlesford District Local Plan (UDLP) adopted 2005, provide the development plan framework for this application. The following policies are of relevance to this application:
Policy RSS MLP WLP UDLP
Waste Management Objectives WM1
Need for Waste Development W3C
Access MLP3 W4C GEN1
Outdoor waste composting W7B
Inert waste recycling MLP5 W7D
Preferred locations for waste management W8A
Alternative sites for waste management W8B
Development Control MLP13 W10E
The Countryside S7
The protection of the natural environment – designated sites ENV7
Promotion of waste reduction, reuse and recycling W6A
Materials Recovery Facilities, Waste Recycling Centres, Civic Amenity sites W7E
Other Landscape Elements of Importance for Nature Conservation ENV8
Public Rights of Way W10G
Airport safeguarding W10H
Noise generators ENV11
UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL – No objection
FISHER GERMAN – Confirm pipelines are in close proximity to the site. Request a site visit with the operator to verify the accurate location of the pipeline.
UTTLESFORD RAMBLERS ASSOCIATION – No objection
ESSEX BRIDLEWAY ASSOCIATION – No comments received
BAA – No objection
NETWORK RAIL – No comments received
CPRE – No comments received
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY – No objection
COUNTY COUNCIL’S NOISE CONSULTANT – No objection
HIGHWAY AUTHORITY – No objection subject to the following:
• All matters in the legal agreement sealed August 2006 under application number ESS/43/05/UTT to be applied to this application.
• All vehicles associated with the operation of the site comply with the authorised height limit of the railway bridge on Hollow Road.
• Protection of the route of the bridleway
• A limit on vehicle movements to a maximum average of 60 per working day for any year and 65 on any single day.
• The site only operates until 2009. This is due to the location and road network being unsuitable for a long term use and the continuing detrimental effect on the rural road network.
HIGHWAY AUTHORITY – RIGHTS OF WAY – Advise that Bridleway 14 would not be affected providing the diversion order made by Uttlesford District Council becomes operative.
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT (ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY AND HIGHWAYS) – Consider the site visually intrusive from surrounding roads and properties. Require reduction of waste piles and additional screening bunds. State that tree and shrub planting is not being maintained and suggest remedial measures. Require additional planting with species and spacing to be agreed and the control of litter.
WIDDINGTON PARISH COUNCIL – No objection subject to frequent monitoring of the site by planning officers and the setting of a final date in 2009 for extraction and recycling. Ask that it is noted that the operators are more considerate than previous site operators but there are occasional breaches of planning control and movement of deadlines further into the future.
LOCAL MEMBER – UTTLESFORD – Stansted – No comments received
No properties were directly notified of the application as there are no properties within 250m of the site boundary. 2 letters and 2 emails of representation have been received from 1 household. These relate to planning issues covering the following matters:
The pit has often been in breach of planning control. The application is retrospective and the site has been operating without planning permission since April 2007. See appraisal.
The Planning Authority has failed to secure the timely restoration and closure of the pit, which is within a Special Landscape Area and was envisaged to be complete by June 1997. This is a separate site and is not the subject of this application.
Carr & Bircher were supported originally and assisted Widdington Woodland Ltd to restore and plant 30 acres of landfill. The waste recycling operation was granted for a temporary period. See appraisal.
The site is run better now than by previous operators, however waste has been piled too high on several occasions resulting in litter blowing into London Jock Wood. See appraisal
A stack of soil is present at the southern end of the pit. This is a separate site and is not the subject of this application.
Seek assurance that the landfill will be closed by 30 June 2009 regardless of whether or not the void is filled. This is a separate site and is not the subject of this application.
Request that regulatory and planning delays are investigated. This is with reference to the adjacent sand pit which is a separate site. The regulatory delays are a matter for the Environment Agency.
Reluctantly accept that consent should be granted providing all current restrictions remain, site monitoring is carried out and joint working with the Environment Agency.
The key issues for consideration are:
A. Principle of the development
C. Impact on the countryside
D. Impact on the local highway network.
A PRINCIPLE OF DEVELOPMENT
The application area is a preferred location for landfill of inert waste in the Waste Local Plan. However, this proposal is not for landfill and is no longer linked to the restoration of the adjacent landfill. Waste Local Plan Policy W8B (alternative sites for waste management) states that waste management facilities will be permitted in non-preferred locations on existing and allocated industrial areas, employment areas or existing waste management sites providing the criteria of Policy W8A (preferred locations for waste management) are complied with. However, this application is for larger scale waste development, proposals for which must show that the preferred locations in the Waste Local Plan are less suitable. This has not been demonstrated by the applicant and the proposal is therefore considered to be contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W8B (alternative sites for waste management).
Waste Local Plan Policies W6A (promotion of waste reduction, reuse and recycling) and W7E (materials recovery facilities, waste recycling centres, civic amenity sites) support the principle of recycling providing the development does not prejudice the agreed restoration timescale for the main landfill site.
Inert waste recycling on an existing extraction and waste management site is considered to be generally acceptable under Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP5 (inert waste recycling) and Waste Local Plan Policy W7D (aggregate recycling plants) providing it does not cause environmental or residential harm or unduly prejudice the restoration timescale of the main development.
Planning permission could only be granted until the end date attached to the adjoining sand pit and landfill site (ref ESS/33/02/UTT/REV) which is 30 June 2009 with restoration by 30 June 2010. This is because the justification for the waste recycling site is for the infilling of the landfill and to aid its restoration. However the phasing details on permission ref ESS/33/02/UTT/REV are not yet agreed due to the fact that the site will not be complete by the end date. Thus, although the retention of the waste recycling site would not prejudice the restoration timescale, it would not contribute to the timely restoration of the site either. Part of the original justification for the waste recycling site in its current location was the fact that there would be residual waste to be disposed of by landfill. However the site has been operating since the original permission was granted in 2002 without a licence to landfill waste and large quantities of residual waste have not been visible on site. The only visible residual waste is the waste being stored on top of the landfill. It is therefore considered that there is not justification for the retention of the waste recycling site, there is no need for it to be located adjacent to the landfill due to the apparent small quantities of residual waste being produced and it would be contrary to Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP5 (inert waste recycling) and Waste Local Plan Policies W7E (material recovery facilities, waste recycling centres, civic amenity sites) and W7D (aggregate recycling plants).
The importation of aggregate for sale could only be acceptable in principle if the activity was ancillary to the main quarry operation and the use would not cause unacceptable environmental conditions or traffic problems, in accordance with MLP13 (development control). The bulk of the aggregate for sale on site is proposed to remain as indigenous sand, however it is not considered to be acceptable for importation to continue whilst the void remains unfilled and justification for the waste recycling site as a whole has not been established.
Waste Local Plan Policy W8A (preferred locations for waste management) states that there must be a need for the facility to manage waste arsing in Essex and Southend.
The original planning permission (ref ESS/63/01/UTT) was granted for a maximum temporary period of two years. It was considered appropriate as Carr & Bircher’s lease on their site at Ashdon road, Saffron Walden was due to expire and the relocation to Hollow Road would allow the recycling operations to continue, potentially reducing the need for landfill in line with waste policy. The 2 year period was considered a reasonable time period for the operators to secure an alternative site elsewhere and gain the necessary planning permission and Waste Management Licence.
The justification for the further permission (ref ESS/43/05/UTT), which was granted until 30 July 2007, was that the site was needed for the restoration of the adjacent landfill, although it was still pending the grant of a PPC permit from the Environment Agency. It was granted for a temporary period so that the permit situation could be reviewed in line with the host permission which required the submission of a low level restoration scheme if the PPC permit was not issued by that time. The PPC permit was issued in November 2006, however the engineering of the landfill cells has not received approval and therefore tipping cannot take place.
Waste Local Plan Policy W3C (need for waste development) states that waste developments with a capacity of more than 25,000 tonnes per annum will only be permitted when a need has been demonstrated for waste arising in Essex and Southend, or where the development is necessary to achieve satisfactory restoration. There has been no reason put forward regarding why the waste recycling site is better located in its current location than elsewhere. Given the fact that the site is no longer justified by aiding in the timely restoration of the adjoining landfill, it is considered that there is no justification for its continued use off of Hollow Road and the proposal does not comply with Waste Local Plan Policies W3C (need for waste development) and W7B (outdoor waste composting). This is particularly true when it is considered that the site has been operating since the original permission was granted in 2002 without a licence to landfill waste and large quantities of residual waste have not been visible on site. The only visible residual waste is the waste being stored on top of the landfill.
C IMPACT ON THE COUNTRYSIDE
Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP13 (development control) and Waste Local Plan Policy W10E (development control) require consideration and protection of the countryside, in particular areas with special landscape designations.
Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management requires Waste Planning Authorities to consider the likely impact on the local environment and on amenity when determining applications for waste management facilities.
Emerging Regional Spatial Strategy Policy WM1 (waste management objectives) seeks to minimise the environmental impact of waste management.
The application site lies within the North Essex Special Landscape Area. It is adjacent to an area designated as a County Wildlife Site, Ancient Woodland and Important Woodland, to which Uttlesford Local Plan Policies ENV7 (protection of the natural environment – designated sites) and ENV8 (other landscape elements of importance for nature conservation) apply.
Uttlesford Local Plan Policy S7 (the countryside) states that the countryside will be protected for its own sake and permission will only be given for development which needs to take place there or is appropriate to the rural area. The appearance of development must protect and enhance the character of the surrounding area unless there are special reasons why it needs to be there.
The site is visible from the B1383 and the M11. It is particularly intrusive due to the fact that waste piles have protruded over the surrounding bunds on more than one occasion in breach of the planning permission. The survey of existing vegetation and scheme for additional planting which was required as a condition on the original planning permission (ref ESS/63/01/UTT) was not implemented during the life of that permission. The following permission (ref ESS/43/05/UTT) required a detailed scheme to be submitted within one month of the permission but no details of proposed planting were submitted. Therefore although some planting has been carried out, and the restoration of the large expanse of adjacent land through tree planting deserves credit, the site has never been adequately screened by planting and the tree and shrub planting which has been carried out has not been adequately maintained.
The litter fence at the site has not been properly maintained and, partly due to the height of some of the stockpiles in the southern area, litter has blown to the adjacent London Jock Wood. Policies ENV7 (protection of the natural environment – designated sites) and ENV8 (other landscape elements of importance for nature conservation) state that development which affects County Wildlife Sites, Ancient Woodlands or woodland will not be permitted unless the need for the development outweighs the importance of those sites.
The need for the waste recycling site has not been proven and there are no special reasons why it needs to be in its particular location, therefore it is considered that the retention of the site would be contrary to Uttlesford Local Plan Policies S7 (the countryside), ENV7 (protection of the natural environment – designated sites) and ENV8 (other landscape elements of importance for nature conservation), Minerals Local Policy MLP13 (development control), Waste Local Plan Policy W10E (development control) and Emerging Regional Spatial Strategy Policy WM1 (waste management objectives).
Widdington pit lies within the safeguarding area for Stansted Airport, to which Waste Local Plan Policy W10H (airport safeguarding) applies. The policy states that development here will be resisted unless it can be demonstrated that the development and nature of waste materials involved would not present a hazard to air traffic. BAA has stated that the development does not conflict with safeguarding criteria and therefore this in itself would not be a reason to refuse planning permission.
Uttlesford Local Plan Policy ENV11 (noise generators) states that noise generating development will not be permitted if it adversely affects noise sensitive properties nearby unless the need for the development outweighs the degree of noise generated. The County Council’s noise consultants have not objected to the proposals and therefore noise levels are considered to be in compliance with UDLP Policy ENV11.
D IMPACT ON THE LOCAL HIGHWAY NETWORK
Bridleway 14 Widdington runs through the application area. The bridleway is well maintained and the diversion order has been applied for. Therefore the requirements of Waste Local Plan Policy W10G (Public Rights of Way) have been upheld and the presence of the bridleway is not a reason to refuse planning permission.
Hollow Road is a narrow country lane with passing places. There is no potential for a direct access to the B1383 and so any new development at Widdington Pit would normally be refused on highway grounds alone due to being contrary to Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP3 (access) and Waste Local Plan Policy W4C (access). Minor roads around Widdington, in particular Hollow Road and North Hall Road, were not constructed to accommodate regular trafficking by HGVs and the developer has therefore accepted responsibility for the damage to the highway being caused by the continued operations at Widdington Pit through a Section 106 Agreement.
Uttlesford Local Plan Policy GEN1 (access) requires that development is only permitted if the access to the main road network is capable of carrying traffic generated by the development safely. The traffic generated by the development must be capable of being accommodated on the surrounding transport network.
The Highway Authority has no objection to the retention of the waste recycling site until 2009 providing certain criteria are met. However, the Authority states that the location of the site and the road network used to access the site is not suitable for a long term use as a waste transfer station and its use beyond 2009 is unlikely to be supported due to the continuing detrimental effect on the rural road network.
The situation has changed since the previous grant of planning permission so that there is now no justification for the development in its current location, as discussed in sections A and B of this report. It is therefore considered that the detrimental effect on the rural road network would not be justifiable even for a temporary period until 2009 and the development is contrary to Minerals Local Plan Policies MLP3 (access) and MLP13 (development control), Waste Local Plan Policies W4C (access) and W10E (development control) and Uttlesford Local Plan Policy GEN1 (access).
In conclusion it is considered that the retention of the waste recycling site until 2009 would be detrimental to the character of the surrounding countryside and designated areas, the need for its retention has not been proven and the local highway network is not adequate for the type of operation proposed.
That planning permission be refused for the following reasons:-
1. The retention of the use would cause harm to visual amenity, would be unnecessarily detrimental to the surrounding countryside and designated areas and is contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W10E, Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP13 and Uttlesford Local Plan Policies ENV7, ENV8 and S7.
2. The retention of the use would give rise to industrial activity inappropriate to and unnecessarily detrimental to the surrounding countryside and would therefore be contrary to Emerging Regional Spatial Strategy Policy WM1, Minerals Local Plan Policies MLP13 and MLP5 and Waste Local Plan Policies W10E, W6A, W7D and W7E and Uttlesford Local Plan Policies ENV7, ENV8 and S7.
3. The retention of the use would cause unnecessary detrimental impact on the rural road network and would therefore be contrary to Minerals Local Plan Policy MLP3, Waste Local Plan Policy W4C and Uttlesford District Local Plan Policy GEN1.
4. The need for the waste recycling site cannot be justified in connection with the restoration of the adjacent sand pit and as such is contrary to Waste Local Plan Policies W3C, W8B and W7B.
By virtue of the powers delegated to me I hereby accept and approve the above recommendations
for Head of Environmental Planning Date 2 April 2008